Lessons in Excellence
By Richard Mabey Jr.
At a very young age, my father taught me to excel; to do my very best in all that I did in life. It was one of the most valued lessons that I have ever learned. My dad always did his very best in all he did in life, whether it was in his role as a Scoutmaster, as a church leader, in community affairs and in his work as a long-distance truck driver.
We used to have a four-drawer file cabinet in our cellar at the old Mabey Homestead. The top three drawers were filled with scouting paperwork. The bottom drawer was filled with paperwork from Dad’s work. In that bottom drawer were probably well over a hundred letters of praise that Dad had received from the movers and shakers of corporations, of which Dad had moved machinery for or had transported heavy equipment.
This letter dated October second of 1970, from the EDO Corporation, is a classic example of the type of letters of praise that corporate big wheels sent to the upper management of the trucking company that Dad worked for.
I think that one of the things that made my Dad such an outstanding and great truck driver, is that Dad had such a focus on details. He believed that if you cut corners on the little things, that you would just end up cutting corners on the big things. From getting the mirrors on his trucks in just the right positions to checking all the engine fluids to checking tires for flaws; Dad always made sure that his tractor trailer was in tip-top shape before he put the key in the ignition.
Oversize loads were a specialty of Dad’s. He always put safety first when driving his truck.
My Dad did a lot of government work, in the many years that he worked at Main Trucking Company. “Safety first” was Dad’s motto. He often drove the oversized loads that required special permits. Also, a lot of Dad’s wide loads required that he had to have a “flag car” in the front of him and in the back of him, at all times. This was always tough to coordinate in busy traffic.
A lot of Dad’s oversized loads required that special structures were built to support the awkward shapes and heavy weight of the equipment being transported.
Whenever Dad had to take on a long-distance transport job of an oversized load, he would have to route the trip. I had the distinct honor, one summer, when I was about 15 years old, to travel with Dad when he routed one particular job.
I remember that Dad had this telescoping measuring device. We would come to a point in the road where a trestle or a bridge crossed the road from above. Dad would be incredibly focused when he measure the exact space between the tar of the road’s surface to the lowest point of the bridge, that crossed above the road. One of the things that I remember so well about Dad, is that he would always measure all the distances twice. Then he would write down the height of the space between the road and the crossing bridge, in his little notebook that he kept in his shirt pocket. Dad took his job very serious.
Large yellow signs would read “Oversize Load” in big black letters. They would be strung across the front of the cab and on the back of the trailer. Dad took safety very serious.
I look back upon how hard my Dad worked. How serious he took his job. And, what a truly great truck driver he was. Truck drivers get a bad rap. They really do. I don’t know why, but they do. They pay a huge percentage of the road taxes in America, but they still get a bad rap.
My Dad worked hard to elevate the standing of the American Truck Driver. He was always courteous to people when he was driving. He drove defensively. He put safety first, all the time. Dad truly was one of the best truck drivers in America.
The next time you see a truck driver, don’t stick your nose up at him. He’s got a tough job. It’s a lonely job. And without truck drivers, America’s economy would collapse in a matter of a few days. Transportation of goods, heavy equipment and specialty items is one of the important elements of America’s economy. And that man or woman driving that big rig, is working hard; harder than the average person realizes.